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Szaflary. Problems at the geothermal well near Zakopane, work delay

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At a depth of almost six kilometers in Szaflary near Zakopane, where a geothermal well is being drilled, walls are crumbling. An additional difficulty is the rocks encountered by the drill. Work that is supposed to guarantee cheap heat and electricity for Podhale has practically come to a standstill.

From April 2023 the deepest geothermal well in Poland is drilled in Szaflary near Zakopane. Its depth will ultimately be seven kilometers. The thermal springs are intended to provide a virtually inexhaustible source of energy and be the first in the country to produce electricity. They are also supposed to heat houses in four towns.

Drill tower in SzaflaryTVN24

The work came to a standstill

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However, when the drill was 5.9 thousand meters underground, slightly higher, at a depth of 5.8 thousand meters, the walls of the well began to crumble – these are the so-called dislocation zones, i.e. an underground fault that causes the rocks to be loose and the drilled the corridor is unstable. This means that the drilled section is backfilled from above. The downtime related to additional work is expected to last approximately three weeks.

Read also: In Otwock they are looking for water underground. To reduce heating costs

– The section directly above the drill began to crumble, so the work almost stopped. Above the drilled section, a so-called cavern was created at a depth of approximately 5,800 meters and we need to cement this place to stabilize the walls. Only five meters were drilled in two weeks – explained Dr. Eng. Piotr Długosz, well designer.

Drill tower in SzaflaryTVN24

He added that at Monday's meeting it was agreed that in order to stabilize the walls of the well, which had started to collapse, the so-called cement plug. This – he said – should prevent the hole from being filled in. – Preparations for such an operation are currently underway – he said.

Hard rocks stop the drill bit

The drill is currently at a depth of 5,906 m below ground level, in Mesozoic formations from the Wierch series. After completing the necessary work, drilling will continue, but – as the geologist pointed out – an additional difficulty is the very hard rock in this section.

– We encountered very hard rocks, we had to change the drill twice and it couldn't cope. The drills we pulled to the surface were very deformed and worn out, he explained. He pointed out that another 5-7/8-inch drill is now installed, but progress will be slower on the next section. – The next three weeks will most likely be without progress – said the geologist.

Geothermal well in Podhale

Drilling progress so far has been 40 to 50 m per day. Initially, it was assumed that the drilling would be completed at the turn of March and April, but now it is known that the end date will be postponed.

According to assumptions, a geothermal source with a temperature above 150 degrees Celsius is expected at the bottom of the seven-kilometer well. Already at a depth of about five kilometers, hot springs with a temperature of about 120 degrees Celsius were found. Earlier, at a depth of about three kilometers, the first aquifer with a temperature of 85 degrees Celsius was encountered.

The total investment cost is PLN 132 million. The work is fully financed by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.

Main photo source: TVN24

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